Summer Notebook 2013: It’s All Material, Sometimes.

It’s all material.  If you write, you’ve heard this before.  Great writing ideas flash by me everyday, but like someone caught in a flood, I see lots of stuff go by, but I’m too busy bailing to grab onto anything this time of year.  So, I usually wait until monsoon season wanes and ideas surface and dry out before I float them in writing.


You probably wonder where I’ve been. 


Post-knee reconstruction (3 months in bed / on crutches), I finished physical therapy just  in time to hop a plane to Europe, where on Santorini, hubs and I spent a week hiking the 600 foot high caldera on which our cave-room hotel-carved in the pumice – perched, as well as dining and ATVing (is that a word?), before leaving for visiting family in Germany and bringing back a young German student as we so often do as part of an ongoing student exchange.

I could give you my usual rant about how far behind our agrarian-based school calendar puts us when we have to wind down school and build it up again with its attendant changes in schedules, teachers, tutors, car pools, sports, music, volunteer times, etc. But, I won’t. Kind of…

On the Upside

Let’s see on the up- but busy -side: we enjoyed our young German student: Andreas, for a month this summer. A sweetheart, Andi cooked for himself and the rest of us and fit into our family and reveled in the Americanness of it when we had to remove a deadly snake from our yard in the high desert. I won’t evoke images of Spaghetti Westerns here.

In Germany, we went to a family reunion, which included a visit from an astronaut.  Likewise, my husband an father-in-law included me on a personal visit to Tigers in the Mud author Otto Carius, a 90-year-old former tank driver, where my youngest daughter understood what it meant to touch history as she looked at his World War II medals.

My girls brushed up in their German staying with a German family, learning to sail on Amersee as well as took their first solo train ride across Germany. More on this later. Perhaps. I survived it once. I don’t know if I want to relive it in writing…

The bad busy: the summer of repairs

On the downside: my computer died. My car had recall repairs. My air conditioner –during the hottest month in the Arizona desert — died a slow and sneaky death until my husband joined me in night sweats and could no longer say, “It must be a woman’s thing…” and became equally as frustrated when the A/C repairman looked at us cockeyed when we’d say, “It just goes fritzy at night.”

The pool had gremlins of its own, which perplexed a number of repairmen.  My right knee couldn’t be left out of the pain and PT program from all of its overcompensation for the left.  All of this makes my plan as a twenty-something – for living in a Yurt look darn good. On the serious side,  my sister had a risky medical procedure that makes any complaint here minute. I’m glad she’s okay.  And, I’m certain there are things I missed on this list.

“No. Please tell me my shots are up-to-date.”

Finally, a week before leaving for Greece I noticed my teaching assignment had changed from ENG 101 to ENG 102.  How ironic, I — a writing instructor—for whom close reading is a must—didn’t catch that until it became critical. What a difference a number makes. Not only is math not my forte, but in one of seven airplanes during our summer travel I picked up RSV, bronchitis, pneumonia, pertussis, other-wise-known-as whooping cough and was so sick for three months it wasn’t until I was almost done with the pneumonia-like stage that I was able to compete 60 hours of course planning/prep in one week — the week before class started. Not my usual way of doing things, but stuff happens.  Finally, six doctors and two continents later, it took a doctor with prison experience to figure out what ailed me.  Go figure.

Writing Instructor Inspiration

When inspiration strikes, you sometimes need to run with it. Despite temporary vocal chord and lung damage, not sleeping through the night in an 85 degree house, I was struck by an idea too good to snooze on. Since First-Year Composition at my college focuses a great deal on public discourse, I developed a panel event called: “Arguments Everywhere,” which featured professionals, who spoke and answered questions about how they use various aspects of what we learn in Rhetoric and Composition in every day life.

Inside of ten days, I called upon various friends and associates to create this panel: authors, a superior court judge, a dean, community activists, a former congressional candidate, a magazine editor, a lawyer specializing in flash mob law.  This intense and thoughtful group humored me by prepping an uncut few pages of questions to answer for students and other professors.  For next time, Op-Ed personality EJ Montini and humorist Tania Katan are in discussion to keynote this event, which we hope to open up college wide.

Time Management

On stuff happening, as you know – it sure does — I’m trying to get a handle on managing how I spend my time. Note – how the vocab that we used with time: “spend.” Time equates to money and like money it needs to get budgeted. I’m in the trial phase – which is very honey-moonish with a great task management system that’s keeping me honest about how I spend time. And it’s working. Rather, I’m working. Better. Cleaner. More efficiently.  Wunderlist by the folks at Wunderkinder – from that most efficient country of all countries: Germany, is helping me keep my life, my short term objectives categorized, prioritized, and moving toward larger goals.   My goals for this year include: after health — in simplest terms writing, teaching and publishing.


That Hen as material

Now, if I could just figure out a way to stop that surviving back yard hen from crowing. Which wouldn’t be so bad—let alone perplexing, if she hadn’t decided to taking up roosting on the patio table at night, leaving me something at my spot to contemplate over coffee in the morning.


Perhaps, it’s not all material after all as we say in the writing world.

Have you considered where your time has gone? How do you carve out time for writing? How do you decide what you’re going to write?

10 thoughts on “Summer Notebook 2013: It’s All Material, Sometimes.

    • Anneli,

      Ha! Thanks for checking back. Still here, mostly! Been keeping up on reading your posts – esp like the German ones with fogged out family or passersby in the photos…getting back into normal rhythm and it better stay normal around here, right? It’s all good. So glad to see you! How’s your garden this time of year?


  1. I give myself a mental rotation of things I need to do. Writing is on that rotation but I still don’t feel like I give myself enough time to it. I think actually scheduling writing time each day is probably more effective. And also scheduling cleaning time (ahem). My apartment is scary.


    • Brooke, these sound like great time management devices. Though I could well imagine if I allowed my mind to work on the “mental rotation” cycle – it might spin off and I wouldn’t know where I was anymore. I like being able to step off that rotation that I’ve created artificially on a list or in a program and then following it and letting go of the keeping track! Scheduling writing sounds brilliant… it makes it a priority instead of just leaving it to chance!


    • Thanks Selina! I’ve love to hear more about what you remember from Santorini at that time. It seems to have evolved into a very touristy destination. Still lovely in it’s natural beauty and architectural forms, but buzzing with foreigners 🙂 none-the-less. But, yes, will be writing on that soon! Thanks, R


Comments are closed.